Subsidiarity Can Help Save Liberty, Says Vatican Aide

Believes That Utopian View of Free Markets Is Fading

MADRID, Spain, NOV. 19, 2002 ( In the age of globalization, the model of the social state needs to be changed while democracy must be revised under the principle of subsidiarity, says a Vatican aide.

Guzman Carriquiry, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, made that proposal when he addressed the 4th Congress on Catholics and Public Life, held here last weekend.

The Uruguayan intellectual said the concept of “subsidiarity” is emerging forcefully again as a critical topic of cultural and political debate. Together with solidarity, subsidiarity is a pillar of Church social doctrine.

Quoting the encyclical “Centesimus Annus,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1883, defines subsidiarity as the principle that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”

Carriquiry believes that subsidiarity is emerging “as a response to the exhaustion of the utopia of the self-regulating market.”

The principle of subsidiarity is a response to “euphoric conquering liberalism, the close state-market relation, the need to revise and develop democracy,” said Carriquiry, who is the author of “Globalization and Catholic Identity in Latin America.”

In a word, subsidiarity is “the custodian, safeguard and manifestation of liberty before new modes of concentration and influence of power,” he said.

Subsidiarity, he added, necessarily implies that the state be at the service of society, liberty, creativity, industry, business and the solidarity of persons, families, various groups and the nation.

This is why the “reform of the social state” is necessary, because the latter cannot offer infinite loans, compensation and subsidies without compromising the bases of its own existence, Carriquiry added.

Therefore, “there must be a creative application of subsidiarity, which will allow for the development of intermediary societies,” Carriquiry emphasized.

The market economy, he insisted, must contemplate two realities at the same time: “private” economy and “social” or “civil” economy. Social or civil economy is concerned with the production and distribution of a series of goods that cannot be framed within the traditional rules of the market, Carriquiry continued.

A further step is that “the principle of subsidiarity points precisely to ways of educating, promoting and mobilizing the vibrant energies of a person and of society. It is what is called the third sector,” he said.

For all these reasons, a revision of democracy is necessary, the Vatican undersecretary contended. Reasons are not lacking for this claim as, for example, “the development of multicultural societies, self-regulating innovations and technological dynamisms, and the one-on-one, powerful influence of the revolution of communications,” Carriquiry explained.

He also cited the “spread of the liberalization of the markets and their globalization, the growing forms of exclusion, decreasing electoral participation, the crisis of political parties (…), the lack of interest of vast sectors of the population in public affairs, as well as the self-organization of vast informal realms that are outside all political regulation.”

A genuine democracy must be founded on subsidiarity, “inasmuch as the centrality and primacy of the human person is recognized — in his or her corporal and spiritual subjectivity; integral dignity; natural, inalienable rights; and exercise of liberty with truth and responsibility — as foundation, subject and end of all social and political institutions,” Carriquiry stressed.

The Congress on Catholics and Public Life, organized by the San Pablo-CEU University Foundation, ended Sunday. It aimed to analyze, promote and channel the action of Catholics in the social, political, economic and cultural realms in light of the social doctrine of the Church.

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